A few days back a dear friend and avid blog reader asked me to make these hazelnut sticks for her. I happily obliged and then a little too happily ate more than my fair share. Oops.
Anyway, eating those delicious crunchy hazelnutty treats made me realize how much I love the unadulterated flavor of hazelnuts and I wanted to capture that flavor in something quicker: muffins. Now I really like muffins, even the bottoms which is usually what I wind up with since my husband and daughter are unabashed muffin top fiends.
I did some thinking and came up with this recipe, fully prepared for this to be round one of many, but lady luck was on my side and these muffins are sheer perfection. The soft flavor of the hazelnuts is beautifully complimented by that of the maple syrup. I know it seems like a lot of syrup, but as it bakes the flavor mellows. Also, as tempting as they are fresh from the oven you must let them cool completely before trying one. They are well worth the wait.
6 Jumbo, 10 Regular
1 ½ cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons melted butter
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup sour cream (use milk/buttermilk if you don't have it handy)
¾ cup flaked or peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts (½ + ¼ for sprinkling, but you can use less)
coarse sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Set a large saucepan over medium high heat, when the pan is hot add the flaked hazelnuts and move them around for a few minutes till toasted. Transfer the hazelnuts to another plate/bowl to halt the cooking process.
Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk the melted butter, maple syrup, sour cream, egg and vanilla together in a medium sized one until smooth and then stir the wet ingredients into the dry until half the lumps have dissipated. Add a little over ½ cup of the hazelnuts and then stir until a few small streaks of flour remain. Be careful not to overmix the batter otherwise you will have some tough muffins.
I made mine in cupcake liners and wound up with ten muffins, in a larger muffin tin these would make 6. Top the muffins with the remaining flaked hazelnuts and a small sprinkling of coarse sugar.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Wait for the muffins to come to room temperature, they are nice when they are warm, but for the maple flavor to shine through the muffins have to cool.